According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, which owns the Wi-Fi trademark. “Wi-Fi” is not an abbreviation or an acronym. It is not “short” for anything.
The brand services consultancy Interbrand was hired by the Wi-Fi Alliance to invent an expression to substitute for “802.11”. They submitted “Wi-Fi” as a pun (play on words) of “Hi-Fi”, and created the W-Fi logo (a visual pun on the Yin-Yang symbol).
The Wi-Fi Alliance briefly used the tag line “The Standard for Wireless Fidelity” in their promotions, which was quickly dropped. Wi-Fi Alliance founding member Phil Belanger, who oversaw the name selection process, states —
“… some of my colleagues … could not imagine using the name “Wi-Fi” without having some sort of literal explanation. So we compromised and agreed to include the tag line ‘The Standard for Wireless Fidelity’ along with the name. This was a mistake and only served to confuse people and dilute the brand.
This tag line was invented after the fact … by the initial six member board and it does not mean anything either. The Wi-Fi Alliance … stay out of inventing standards. And “Wireless Fidelity” – what does that mean? Nothing. It was a clumsy attempt to come up with two words that matched Wi and Fi. That’s it.
So we were smart to hire Interbrand to come up with the name and logo. We were dumb to confuse and water down their efforts by adding the meaningless tag line.”